January is Human Trafficking Awareness month and this week’s #WomanCrushWednesday goes out to Shannon Keith, activist, philanthropist and the founder of the clothing store Sudara.
Shannon Keith spent a decade in corporate sales before a fateful trip to India in 2005. She went with her husband and church group, to dedicate a freshwater well to a community in need of clean drinking water. Turns out that particular area was a “brothel community” – EVERY SINGLE WOMAN AND LITTLE GIRL in the community was either born, sold or duped into sex slavery. Shannon heard still more stories of those at high risk of being trafficked, solely because they lacked the education or the skills to choose otherwise. She returned home, enlisted the help of family and friends, and about a year later launched Sudara. It all started with six women and a partnership with a sewing center in India. Today, thanks to Shannon’s commitment, grit and perseverance, even in – ESPECIALLY in – difficult times, it’s a certified Benefit Corporation. The business means SO MUCH to so many; providing living-wage jobs, advocating for and empowering women who have escaped from or are at risk of human trafficking. Yet for humble Shannon, it’s merely a platform for her activism of helping women and children escape sexual slavery and exploitation.
Shannon has received a number of awards and accolades for her work – she won Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017 and has been featured in magazines including Real Simple, Forbes, The Good Trade and others. Shannon is in demand all over the country as a public speaker on business-related topics like economic development for women, and how to use social business to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – she also spoke at TEDx. As for her company, Sudara is a top 6 finalist in the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge AND a SheEO top 25 semifinalist for 2020 – hoping to make it to the top six! We hope so too!
Shannon is motivated by her strong Christian faith and her beautiful family. She’s been happily married for two decades (and counting!) and has three amazing children. She is dedicated to serving others and she believes everyone deserves dignity, love and respect and thrives when they’re treated with it – regardless of their stations in life.
Shannon Keith also strongly believes in the power of ordinary people doing the right thing, even if it may not be the most convenient. Her mantra – less talk and more love in action – is one we can all get behind!
(Read about another warrior who’s fighting the good fight against the horrific, purely evil practice of human trafficking, Adrienne Livingston.)